I know so little about my father even though I lived with both my parents for 25 years and I don't go without seeing my father for more than 2 weeks at a time. He is a mystery to me and I find that I'm constantly trying to understand him. My father was born on January 1st, 1928 in a tiny seaside town in Portgual. He lived in Portugal until 1959 when he was contracted to work on ships transporting petroleum. He was a seafaring man for 3 years, traveling the world and sometimes spending only a few hours at a time on land. In 1962, he moved to Long Island New York and began contract work in the construction business. He moved quickly up the ranks as he has a strong work ethic, is a fast learner and is a natural born leader. He got the traveling bug again in 1967 and roamed around the world for a few more years, picking up odd jobs along the way. During my father's years of wanderlust, he visited a total of 52 countries. He settled down in Massachusetts in the late 1970s. He met my mother through a subscription dating service (the 1970s equivalent of Match.com) and they met in her home country of the Dominican Republic. They married in 1979 and I was born the following year.
My father's story is a lot more complex than what I just presented. If I really knew more of the details of his life, I would probably find a different person from the one I know now. However, my dad keeps many secrets to himself and I often joke that I probably have more half-siblings than I think I do. In his advanced years, my father is becoming more open to revealing details of his life's journey and I take these opportunities to ask him lots of questions although there are ones I know I cannot ask because they would rouse his macho Portuguese ire.
I find that my interest in classic films stems mostly from my constant need to understand my father. The decades from the 1920s to the 1960s intrigue me the most because these are the years my dad lived through but also the decades of his life that I know little about. Watching these films and getting a taste of what those decades were like, I feel like I can better connect with him. Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s in Portugal, my father and his friends would often go to the local cinema and watch American movies. He's told me that he loved watching Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Bros., etc on the big screen. I mention a classic film star to him and with a smile that lights up his face, he instantly knows who I'm talking about. If anything, immersing myself in classic films has brung me closer to my dad and for that I'm very appreciative.
The picture you see above is of my father in Milan, Italy circa 1971. I love this photograph of because it shows him as elegant and well-traveled. His look is ultra-confident as though he knows that the camera is getting him at his best angle. He is not even phazed by the pigeons pecking at his hand. I look at this picture and I think to myself "my father is cool".
Make sure you check out John's "Dad's Photos" series on the blog Robert Frost's Banjo! I was very inspired by his series to do this post.